Quiet Neighbors by Catriona McPherson

quiet neighboursQuiet Neighbours is one of my March books that I’m only just reviewing.  I actually quite enjoyed this although it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting.  I would say this was something of a mystery story, it has a sort of twee feel to it – and I don’t mean to be negative by saying that – well, just read the review!  I think picking this up I thought it might have had a bit of a supernatural element or been a dark and creepy read – if you’re looking at the cover and thinking the same and don’t fancy dark and creepy then fear not.  This could be right up your street.  As it was this felt like one of those books that you can pick up and spend a few hours whiling away the time.  Entertaining and easy to read.

Jude first visited the village of Wigtown with her husband on vacation and when she found herself in need of a place to run and hide it was the first place she thought of.  Far removed from the busy streets of London Wigtown is a tiny village with a few quaint shops, one of which is a dusty old book store run by a disorganised and rather eccentric chap called Lowell.  Wigtown is one of those tiny places that you could almost blink and miss.  Charming, remote and with more than it’s share of curtain twitchers.  It also seems to have something of a history – one that’s about to be uncovered in the most unlikely fashion and more secrets than you can shake a stick hat.  Unfortunately there are still those living in Wigtown who want those secrets to remain as such and digging them up could be dangerous to the health of the diggers!

At the start of the story we don’t know what Jude is running from but slowly and surely McPherson begins to drop clues.  Then, on top of this another unlikely character enters the scene and before we know it the once lonely book store owner finds himself with a much busier house.

So, to the twee – well, a woman runs away from London, we don’t know why, she could be a raving maniac with a hatchet hidden in her handbag and yet 5 minutes and a bucketload of tears after arriving in Wigtown she has a job, a home and a fistful of money.  Then another stray appears on the scene with an unlikely story and is also taken under the fluffy wing of Lowell.  Yeah, things work out very easy but then if these pieces hadn’t dropped into place this would be a different story and I sort of decided to just go with it – after all, Lowell is lonely and does need help at his shop.  Suspend your nitpicking and just dive in!

What I liked about this.  It has that feeling of a book where you can just sink in and happily read along as the story unfolds.  You pretty much know that things will all come together and you’ll be granted some semblance of a happy ending even if you can’t quite figure out how as all the strands become more and more tangled.  It has this lovely old comedy of errors, farce-like mystery feel.  Everyone jumping at clues and coming up with more and more weird suppositions and on top of that set in a bookstore with random quotes and snippets from books that add to the charm.  I wanted to step into that shop, I really did!  I was itching to find that perfect find.

Criticisms.  The way everything just comes together – part of what makes the book enjoyable and easy to read but also sometimes slightly irritating too!  There is the development of a romance thread which I really didn’t think was necessary and in fact I couldn’t see it at all.  Amongst all the other tomfoolery that element just didn’t work for me.  Lowell was written as a bit of a doddery character.  The sort of character who searches the house for his reading specs which are perched on top of his head all the while, or walks around in a smelly robe that hasn’t been washed since it saw the light of day.  And dear me – if he actually uttered the words ‘dear me’ one more time – I was going to open up a can, dear me, yes I really was!  One more dear me, just one – and I would have actually punched Lowell in the face!  And I don’t have violent tendencies usually.  Dear me no.

But, fairly minor criticisms to be honest. And, to be clear, I didn’t dislike Lowell (dear me, how could I – I jest, I couldn’t help it, this ‘dear me’ing’ is actually quite addictive once you start!)  No, I liked the characters, they’re nice people after all!

This is a fun and entertaining mystery, not spooky or dark at all, that can be enjoyed in a couple of days snuggled up in an armchair all cosy like.

If that appeals to you then give it a go.  I had fun reading and in fact even had fun writing this review.  Not the type of book that I read predominantly so if you’re expecting any fantasy elements then walk away now.  There isn’t a ghost in sight!  No bumps in the night, no apparitions and a downright unforgivable shortage of dragons and elves.

I received a copy courtesy of the publisher via Netgalley for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.